Let’s talk about this closet, y’all.
I don’t remember coming out of the closet. I know there was a moment when I said the words, “I’m bisexual,” for the first time, but I don’t know when that was. It’s been a while, let’s say, since I “came out” and I’ve been living out and out loud for at least a decade.
What I do remember, is the process of seeing the closet built around me.
When I was a little girl I recall watching an episode, every episode, of the Wonder Woman television show with Lynda Carter. That show actually went off the air when I was four, but through the magic of syndication I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every single moment of magic and Amazonian badassery.
When I was about five or six I turned to my mother during one episode and said “I want to marry her some day.”
Look at her. you’d want to marry her too.
My mother’s response was “No. You want to be her.”
OK well yes that too. But I really wanted to marry her. Because as little kid, it never occurred to me that wasn’t allowed.
I was bi. So I thought everyone else was bi too. Somehow I got it in my head that when you grew up and got married you would just decide on a gender to attach to. I don’t know, kid logic. Don’t ask me.
In that moment, when I was corrected on what I wanted and how I felt my eyes were opened and I started to really look around at the way other people treated the concept of bisexuality and the first nail went in to my closet.
Both the (admittedly few) gay people in my life and the straight people looked at bisexuality as if it were simply a stepping stone to being gay or straight, as if the only real, adult choices were on either side of the spectrum but nowhere in the middle.
Bisexuality was a punchline at best. And there was zero representation aside from the periodic predatory bi on television. There was another nail.
Being gay was vilified among my peer group and even the teachers joined in at the jokes told at the expense of the only gay teacher in my elementary school. More nails.
So I decided to be straight because that seemed easier.
Pssst…it’s not easier. I just thought it would be. I was wrong.
For at least 30 years I did my best to kill half of myself. That didn’t work, clearly but the attempt was still harmful.
Then at some point, which as I mentioned I don’t remember, I came out.
And you know what? Coming out did not magically make everything better. I was still in a relationship with an abusive narcissist. I still didn’t really know how to be in a good relationship. I didn’t know who I was.
All of that knowledge took a further ten years. And, you know, it’s still a work in progress.
So, what’s the point of all this?
The point is, coming out isn’t an ending. It’s not the solution to a problem, it’s the first step in problem solving. And it’s not a thing you do just one time. It becomes part of your life, like breathing.
If the closet is safer, then good. Stay safe. if coming out is the best choice then do that. But, we have to be equally supportive of both. If not, we’re failing as a community.
I wanted to love this series. I wanted it to be what Jessica Jones was for me; a feminist conversation and lesson. Except, you know, about Blackness. I wanted to see the iconic Black hero, doing what he does, being invulnerable and full of integrity while unapologetically Black. I wanted that. But I didn’t get it.
Instead I got the shell of that. Worse, I got, we all got a show that is pretending to be unapologetically pro-Black while actually reinforcing the worst kind of stereotypes. We deserve better.
Look, part of this can’t be helped. The source material is made of racist stereotypes. That’s just factual. A Black hero in the 1970s had no chance of being anything other than Blaxploitation and that’s pretty much all Power Man has ever been. The comic was racist. The villains were racist stereotypes just like the hero and the story was made of racist tropes. It’s generally not a great comic and has always been problematic. It’s just that, at the time, that was all we had. So we accepted it, bad as it was because representation matters.
But Marvel and Netflix had managed to make Daredevil not terrible and Jessica Jones really good, so believe me when I say I went into this show prepared to sing its praises like most other people are doing.
But I can’t.
Because this show is racist as hell and as I mentioned we deserve better.
It started out racist and it stayed racist the entire time.
Literally, the very first thing we see Luke do is blow off the darkest skinned femme protagonist, well non-antagonist, in the entire show who is hitting on him in front of her son, of course she has a son. Of course we can’t have a professional woman with sort of dark skin simply being awesome and owning her sexuality. Nope. There are whole levels of why she’s not attractive to him in the few scenes she has and they’re all centered on colorism and misogynoir.
But he hooks up with Misty Knight, who is lighter than the first woman, that same night.
And he ends up with the lightest woman.
Because, of course he does.
Let’s be clear, the “darkest” woman isn’t all that dark. Every woman in the show darker than her is a villain.
Luke himself is also a problem. He is the quintessential “good” Black man and a large part of the narrative presented as to what makes him good is that he is tame in the beginning. He is the most physically powerful Black human in the Marvel TV universe. He could be a costumed hero. Or, you know, not a costumed hero because all of his costumes are awful. But he could be anything. Except the person they created is properly diffident; head down, voice soft, eyes generally cast down. And no matter how good the fight scenes are, and they’re not actually that good, he is tamed in the end as well. The extremely powerful Black man is, in fact, caged as the resolution of the entire story arc.
To be fair, I will acknowledge the power of seeing a Black man in a dark hoodie walking through a hail of bullets but I also have to acknowledge that Luke Cage is, and has always been the embodiment of the unstoppable Black beast, a stereotype that regularly gets actual Black people killed.
A good writer would have used that contrast. They would have shown us the trap that Black people are forced into by the stereotypes used to dehumanize us. Black men are either rampaging monsters or properly emasculated. Women are either light, bright, and damn near white Mammies, dark Jezebels, or Sassy Sapphires like Black Mariah.
I will admit that Black Mariah is a vast improvement over her comic character but since her origin is an elephantine monster made of African American Vernacular English as filtered through white ears, that’s not saying much.
This show suffers the same issue that so much mainstream entertainment aimed at Black audiences suffers. It doesn’t examine or deconstruct White Supremacy. It just accepts its tropes and uses them to enforce its structure.
Luke Cage isn’t our superhero show. It’s a show about white fear. It’s a minstrel show.
Minstrel shows are offensive. Always. Doubly so because it is presented as for us, by us. We presume that our own people have our best interests at heart. This is forgivable, especially when the entertainment is advertised as if it is revolutionary or progressive or groundbreaking or anything other than more of the same.
For me, the biggest problem is the conversation on policing that happens throughout the show. The pro side of the self-policing argument is a white cop who turns out to be corrupt. The person he’s arguing with? Misty fucking Knight who is given the pro-police side. The inevitable police violence is perpetrated by a Black cop. The only person who steps forward to lead the community against police violence? Is Black Mariah who is doing so for her own reasons and advocates greater arming of the already militarized police.
The conversation is muddled and plodding and badly written as is the rest of the show.
And we deserve better.
We have to stop simply accepting anything that is served to us as long as the hand doing the serving is Black. Because all of our skinfolk ain’t our kinfolk. They don’t have our best interests at heart. Neither do they have any motivation to do their jobs well unless we motivate them.
We deserve superheroes who are heroes. We deserve Black entertainment free of the restrictions of White Supremacy and which fight the tropes systemic racism has trained into us. We deserve better than this and the absolutely worst thing we can do is embrace this show. because if we do, we’ll end up with more of the same and we’ll have no one but ourselves to blame.
We’ve reached the time when it’s harder for me to describe what I love about A~ becaause all of the things that I’ve written about in the years past are still true. A~ is awesome. Also, I love her which is why, going on 20 years in, we’re still together.
She is woke as fuck but I don’t want to write a post about how my white girlfriend is down for Black lives because of course she is.
And we’re both nerdy and like nerd things; although not the exact same nerd things because that would be dull.
There are a lot of ways I could explain how our love is special but then I realizedthere is nothing particularly special about us or our love except that it is ours and we’ve made it last.
That’s ewhat makes it the most remarkable thing of all. So, as ever, love you A-. Happy Contrived Romance Day. I love you all the other days of the year just as much.
I reblog this every year.And this year I’m going to add one more thing that we should all remember.
Americans are being targeted right now by extremists in our own country. An elderly Sikh man was beaten yesterday while his attackers hurled anti-Muslim slurs at him.
Black Americans are being hunted by the law enforcement officers who are supposed to protect us.
Female Americans are being hunted by pretty much whoever the fuck feels like it.
While you’re busy posting about 9/11 keep in mind that we are a long way from right in this country a lot of the time and a not small number of our citizens are living under the constant threat of terrorist violence, not from ISIS or some other Muslim extremist group but from the religious right, from men, from straight people, from white people, from the police every fucking day.
Never fucking forget.
So everyone knows what today is. Everyone knows that a bunch of people died due to extremism and today everyone is going to bombarded with two things; idiotic “Never Forget,” signs, images, bumper stickers and what not; as well as multiple television shows and movies attempting to re-traumatize the public for cash.
And all we’re going to be told today is that we should never forget. Yeah…thanks. I needed that reminder because the image of two people holding hands as they leapt to their deaths from the higher floors of the North Tower, so as to have some human contact in their last moments on earth, was going to go away any time soon; just,you know, pop right out of my head.
You know what we shouldn’t forget?
We shouldn’t forget that there were actually four planes that crashed that day. One took out a building full of soldiers. One crashed in a field after it was retaken by the passengers. The two others hit two buildings full of people.
Why do so many people focus on the building full of victims rather that the building full of soldiers or a plane full of ordinary Americans who stepped up when it was necessary and made themselves heroes? I think we should never forget the other two planes that crashed.
Guess what else we shouldn’t forget?
The terrorist attack on September 11th wasn’t random. It was the result of two things; religious extremism and global politics.
Notice that I didn’t say Muslim extremism. Yes, the people who attacked the U.S. were Muslims but that is peripheral. Religious extremism isn’t exclusive to Islam as evidenced by the idiot reactions to Park 51.
As a result of the religious extremism that led to the attack on September 11th we, the United States have responded with a level of extremism that makes no logical sense and is, in fact, pathetic and sad.
Somehow, in our strong, tough response to terrorism we’ve embraced the very worst traits of those people who attacked us and shown that what we as a nation mean by strong and tough is actually acting in the most cowardly, counter-Constitutional way possible.
Never forget that repeating the same mistakes are going to lead to the same result. Yes, Mr. President, I am looking at you right now.
Never forget that in the days after September 11th people who looked like they might be Muslims were attacked and in some cases were killed.
Never forget that fear and panic are exactly the reactions that the people flying those planes on September 11th wanted.
Never forget that religious extremism is what is happening right now in the United States. Go to any right leaning website and do a search for the word Muslim. You’ll see what I mean.
Never forget that September 11th is the event that led our nation into signing away our civil rights in the form of the Patriot Act.
Never forget that September 11th is the event led directly to a war we never should have fought in which 4400 American service men and women gave their lives and countless civilians died.
Never forget that the U.S. tortured people.
Never forget that part of the reason that the U.S. was targeted was our own actions and our subsequent inaction. That doesn’t, in any way, justify the actions of the terrorists but it’s something that we need to cop to.
Never forget that the U.S. has been selectively meddling in the Middle East for decades and doing so with little regard for the wishes of those in the region or the sovereignty of the nations therein.
Never forget that the events of September 11th are far more nuanced and complex than any t-shirt or very special episode can possibly cover.
You want to memorialize September 11th? Remember that real patriots respect Islam. Remember pluralism, the concept that two or three or thirty-seven, divergent ideas can and must exist in the same nation at the same time and each be equally respected. Remember that we the people have a responsibility to the nation and the Constitution to stand up for our fellow Americans, no matter what religion or nation of origin.
Remember that. While you’re at it, remember that all of the memorials that are showing on TV are happening for profit and all the memorials that are happening in the media are too.
Remember, that grieving is a process and if you are still in the exact same mental and emotional place, wherein you are afraid to leave the house on this day and you cry and cry all day long, you should probably go talk to a professional because you are kind of stuck on step one.
Remember, most of all, that if you are one of those people who are reliving every moment of the attacks on social media or in person you are very likely triggering the shit out of someone else. Also, you’re being really ghoulish. Stop it.
Then remember this: